Saturday, January 31, 2009

Just the other night

Back to mix-tapes and day dreams; Garth Brooks.

Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be

Sean had gone to bed and I was dinking around on Facebook. An old friend, one of those people who for a short time blurred the lines between friend and something else, popped up in the chat window. I immediately smiled, remembering the cadence of his speech, the inimitable way he embodied the sort of slacker-stoner dude of the 90's. We began chatting, joking about babies and parenting, the long road from free-wheeling theatre majors to now: contented, married parents.

He was not a boyfriend, or someone that I had unrequited feelings for, just one of those brief blips of neon in a life far better suited to jewel and earth tones. I looked around as I waited for the next ping of conversation, the floor was strewn with pinks and purples, walls and shelves lined with cherished tomes, mementoes and photographs. It felt odd to suddenly have this gateway, almost a wrinkle in time, connecting parts of my life that I never consider together.

We live near the area where Sean grew up. It's strange sometimes, this experience of being perched along a history I do not belong to. There have been brushes with things that don't threaten me, but feel a bit like rubbing against the grain. Knowing shades of something, an ex-this or that, a quick cocked eyebrow from a friend, a sort of, "Is this something we don't mention?" Nothing sinister or untoward, just natural, if awkward, attempts to buffer the present and past.

I often think how glad I am not to be living where I went to school. I don't have any great shame, but somehow coming here forgave certain missteps or even allowed me the courage to growt. I am, as always, Amanda, but the there was never a time, not in middle school, high school, or college, when I truly found solid footing. I don't have life-long friends, no one that I ever stayed connected to. I sometimes envy people who have that, conducting the odd search for names of people I grew up with, people who might have become that had things gone another way.

Here I have my daughters, my husband, the wisps of my mom's east coast upbringing curling around my life. There is a hint of bygone pride, of striking out and laying claim to a place, building a home and a life. The furnace is humming, it was the first major purchase after our house, barely 2 months after in fact. We used to joke about it, "Hey, wanna see our furnace?" we'd ask guests. The expense was so great for a thing so, well, unimpressive. "How about we add racing stripes to it?" Sean asked late one night as we sipped beers through our plaster-caked lips, sitting on the floor amid strips of ancient, gold shag carpet we'd yanked up. I sighed, phantom aches tickled my shoulders remembering the work.

"Mott," flashed on the screen, my maiden name. "You look really, really happy in all your pictures. But, Mott. That's what I thought when I saw your picture, but that's not you. Weird. You are you now."

I smiled. Before meeting Sean I'd not given a lot of thought to name changing. I hadn't imagined taking someone else's name or being conflicted about losing myself in doing so.

"Wild, right? To love someone so much that you change your name. I'm lucky," I typed.

Letters flashed on the screen, "My wife is brilliant. She grounds me." I'm pretty sure we both grinned at that.

We chatted for a while longer before saying good night. I closed the computer and blew out the candle on the mantle, a just because gift from Sean. I don't imagine we'll chat again. I enjoyed it and found myself thinking back to Ellensburg, the smells of the town, the rhythm of my life back then, but that was it. A bit like a moth weaving and wending, fast then slow, in pursuit of the light. A quick bump against the window, then again, before pausing and making a straight shot for an amber glow. To Sean, my light.

And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life.

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Jodi said...

I have goose bumps after reading this. You have captured perfectly what it is like to run into an old aquaintance and to think of what it means...the past and the present and how different things may have been if something different had happened. Or not happened. I have aquaintances like that...that I see once every 15 years...and it is a strange feeling and really makes you reflect on all you have.

slouching mom said...

had one of these moments just last night. you articulated the feeling so well here.

Ang said...

Even though our lives are very different I can relate to every word.

Beck said...

Oh, WOW. Gorgeous.
WE live in my home town, which is both good and bad, for reasons I'm sure you can well imagine - who wants to live where everyone knows what a goober you were growing up?

flutter said...

this made me a little teary, I have to admit

Heather said...

I've felt this too.

iheartchocolate said...

You really describe it, as with everything you ever write about, beautifully. Marriage is a beautiful thing. I am thankful.

Janet said...

I had an old crush add me as a friend on facebook. We chatted back and forth, I looked through his photos and all I could think was, "Yeah, that is so not my life." And I couldn't be happier about that fact.

Gorgeous post, A.

Lindsay, Tony, and Madison said...

Beautiful! You have such a way with words!

I was at Target yesterday and was looking in the baby section, and looked down to see the Diaper Caddy, and saw you with your beautiful daughter on the packaging! I forgot that you had "modeled" for those! It made me laugh that the first thought that came to my mind was "I know her!" And then grounding myself, realizing, no, I just feel like I do because of the way she lets us into her life! Thank you for all your beautiful posts! (and the pictures were gorgeous, btw!)

Binky said...

Facebook is good when it inspires posts like this.

It's also good when I want to play Text Twirl or decline Friend overtures from people who didn't say a single word to me in HS ;)

Mrs. Chicken said...

I just recently "friended" a guy I dated in high school. It is such an odd feeling, this intersection of past and present.

As always, beautifully written.

Colleen said...

Facebook is a very strange place. I am suddenly "friends" with all of these old high school and college acquaintances. People who have no idea who I am now. It's so strange to see pictures of their current lives.

I'm also "friends" with my college boyfriend and his sister. I recently came across a photo I recognized (on the sister's page). It was actually taken with my camera... and I'd sent her a copy. Only... in the copy she uploaded... I had been cut out. So now, it's just a picture of her and her 2 brothers. Very strange.

Kimberly said...

Facebook is fascinating to me. Each day someone new from my past crops up either in a friend request to me or as a new friend to one of my friends. Each person brings on a new memory, feeling or emotion. You really captured that so perfectly here.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

I've had the same experiences. Living in my Hubby's hometown, becoming friends with his group of friends, no one knowing the "real" Sarah of my youthful past. Us bumping into his ex(es) in random places in town.
Facebook has reminded me where I come from, who I was, who I am.
Not a bad thing, that.

Angela said...

I too wish I had friends from growing up.
I was an army brat so it was almost impossible to hold on to friends.
My husband has friends like that, but sometimes I think some of them would have been better off left in his past.
It is funny what goes into making us, us.

Good post

Damselfly said...

Very poignant and touching. And so interesting to me because I have some elementary-school friends I am talking to now after a long time.

PS Your furnace is like our roof!

Robin said...

What a great post! My husband and I both grew up 10-15 minutes from where we live now and bump into exes and old friends and people who knew us when all the time. I sometimes envy people in your position and the freedom you have starting fresh.

Also, I Never thought I would change my name (got in a huge fight with a college boyfriend about it!) and then did change, very happily :)

carrie said...

Aaaaah, Garth Brooks and Ellensburg. Forgive me for saying this: 2 great tastes that taste great together. In other words, I can relate.

FB is a funny place, and I understand most of what you've said here, although nobody *that* meaningful has popped up to chat, it is funny pasting together the "then" and the "now" with those who have resurfaced. And in a very good way. :)

ps - Brett and I feel those same pangs of fondness for our hot water tank.

Myshka said...

Amazing post, sweetheart. I know what that feels like- we live in his hometown, and the past is there, but not as weird as it used to be to me. But then, I'm realising that I am part of Sean's past, and I hope that you never ever feel weird around me. Coz I totally had a girl crush on you as soon as we met. xo

Assertagirl said...

I agree that these brief glimpses at the past serve to remind us of our fortunes in the present.

This Heavenly Life said...

Beautifully written. What a wonderful moth-y sentiment.